Book Critique: “Courage after Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families”

Free «Book Critique: Courage after Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families» Essay Sample


The book, “Courage after Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families” by Armstrong, Best, and Domenici is an excellent book providing soldiers and their families a complete guide to counter psychological repercussions of duty. The book offers a comprehensive guide to dealing with posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety and provides means to improve family and couple relationships. In addition, the book explores available treatments to deal with difficulties encountered during the war. From reading the book, one can understand strategic ways of rejoining with the family and reconnecting with colleagues. As such, the book provides a complete guide to reconstructive therapy.


The book uses short and well-exemplified monographs to capture the attention of the audience and focus it on particular psychological aspects, including cognitive problems, emotional reactions, and coping behaviors exhibited by survivors of the war. It goes in-depth to explore anger dyscontrol, stress-response syndrome, and depression among other common problems. According to the text, drug and substance abuse does not solve the immediate problems experienced by soldiers, but instead, it aggravates the problems, causing one to become dependent on substances. With each problem highlighted in the text, the authors provide practical suggestions and exercises that are useful in evaluating and modifying these areas. At the end of the book, the authors provide a list of readings that the audience can use to advance stress coping skills as well as a means of reuniting with society. The book is, therefore, helpful to war veterans as well as their families that require help with particular topics. Mental health professions can also use the text to develop therapy skills for their clients, seeking help with reintegration into society (Armstrong et al., 2006).

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The chapter one of the book explores why it is hard to understand war veterans. The things they have gone through places them in a difficult position, making it hard for them to open up. The chapter encourages veterans that it is okay if society does not understand them. No one returns from the war without any side effects of the war. The lives of soldiers have changed in the process of war, and all their dreams of returning home and reuniting with families are shattered. Amidst changes in their lives, they feel they do not fit in society leading to disappointment, confusion, and misery. In the second chapter, Armstrong et al. (2006) explore drinking problem of veterans. It is okay to drink according to authors, but one should never overindulge or drown their sorrows in drinking. The authors point out that it is natural for veterans to avoid anything that reminds them of traumatic events they experienced in the war. Such memories make them distressed and are uncomfortable to them. However, this avoidance leads to symptoms of post-traumatic stress, preventing veterans from learning an important lesson. Embracing the current situation reminds them that today’s encounters are not dangerous, but just triggers of uncomfortable memories. From this, the audience can learn that learning to control reaction to such triggers is empowering to individuals. Therefore, strengthening body and mind reinforces survival skills (Armstrong et al., 2006).

In the third chapter, the authors skillfully explore coping strategies arguing that avoidance of places, activities, and situation reinforces post-traumatic stress. Thus, the chapter offers a gradual way in which the body and mind learn what trauma is, and how to cope with symptoms presenting. Combat strategies for ruling anger provide anger management tip, consequently, providing professional help to veterans. Using this chapter, mental and family practitioners can utilize evidence-based means of combating panic, drug abuse, negative thinking, anger control, and depression, to help veterans and their family deal with the psychological and mental issues. The chapter is informative for both veterans and MFT as they draw important lessons from which to learn ways of dealing with stress (Armstrong et al., 2006).

Grief and loss are also explained in the following chapter. Under this section, the authors cover the numbing feelings induced by loss of a loved one and workmates. It provides a means of surviving after emotions providing veterans with efficient ways of coping with grief. Similarly, MFT can use this information to help clients presenting with grief and loss issues. The authors provide means to heal such as embracing and accepting the course of duty and understanding things cannot be reversed. The articulate presentation of healing therapy under grief and loss is self-explanatory, making it easy to understand for the audience. In addition, grief exercises highlighted in the chapter allows the audience to create a memory from the book.

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The view of self is also covered in details. In the chapter, benefits of trust, security, and self-control are deeply addressed. The chapter also covers meaning and purpose of life giving the audience an understanding of their purpose in life. It is encouraging to the audience, providing them with motivation and purpose to live. The chapter may spark positive change in the audience as they come to terms with self and understand self, better (Armstrong et al., 2006).

The aspect of returning to civilian life details important part that highlights what people living with veterans should know and do to help them get back to work. For those coming home with no jobs, the chapter highlights what to do to support them. The rest of the chapters cover family relationships, professional help, and need for work as well as support (Howell, 2006).

Overall, the book offers a good and comprehensive approach to understanding veterans who have undergone trauma. It further shed lights on reasons why they behave in a manner that is suggestive of isolation. The stress they undergo and mental torture that makes them feel unwanted in the society is covered. By reading the book, the audience comes to understanding of the life of veterans. It presents the situation vividly to the readers. A person or family of a person deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan will find emotional support in the book. The book presents coping strategies for dealing with post-traumatic stress, thereby leaning to deal with presenting situation on own. Furthermore, a step-by-step approach detailed in the book offers a comprehensive approach to dealing with memories, helping one manage such issues on a personal level. The book covers the feelings of veterans, helping the audience understand them from the perspective of the veteran (Armstrong et al., 2006).

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The book is recommendable to mental and family health practitioners in the scope of their work. It helps them to administer evidence-based therapy to clients seeking such services. It also helps them to understand clients in a deep manner that gives them power over them. The most important aspect of the book is providing a healing procedure that allows people to understand how to deal with presenting issues. It is such an awesome book that veteran families must read (Howell, 2006).

In the book, cultural, social, and political landscapes of Iraq and Afghanistan are painted as emotive and unfit landscapes. They induce trauma and stress on veterans. Firstly, the cultural aspect of the war-torn countries is seen as unfit. They tend to model veterans with fear, making them feel like cultural rejects. The cultures of the war-torn countries are not similar to the cultures veterans lead, thereby creating a crash of cultures. However, since veterans have been subjected to war culture, when they come across small things that resemble war, they trigger memories of war. Secondly, there is no social life in the war torn countries; meaning that life veterans spent was with their peers where everyone else was their enemy. Similarly, they tend to carry on that notion to present life, making it hard for them to fit in. The political landscape is not vastly covered in the text, as it does not greatly influence their present life. Nonetheless, the information presented in the text allows them to understand that such cultural and social landscapes are in the past. They no longer matter to their present life. In this regard, they should do away with them and embrace present life (Howell, 2006).

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As mentioned in the parts above, the comprehensive approach to care provided by the authors is a sure way of dealing with stress and traumatic memories after the war. Therapies suggested in the book are workable and easy to follow. Yet, the book provides a powerful perspective about veterans and their lives. In addition, it is evident that veterans require help. As the audiences of the book, it is our duty to offer help when the opportunity presents. The book, therefore, empowers the audience to offer such help. The target audience of the book are veterans and their families. As primary targets, the book provides a detailed guide to helping them cope with memories and events that trigger such memories. The difficulty in coping is acknowledged in the book, thereby helping the audience understand that coping is not an easy task. Furthermore, to manage adequately one’s presenting symptoms, such as anger, sadness, seclusion, and other psychological issues, one ought to follow the guide provided keenly.


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